Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO
The new year is a time to make resolutions. This year, I hope you will renew your commitment to wildlife conservation, as we have done.
The Defenders’ team has been hard at work developing a visionary 2013-2023 Strategic Plan [PDF] to carry out our wildlife conservation mission this coming year and for the decade ahead. From saving polar bears threatened by climate change to preserving habitat for gopher tortoises, we believe that this strategic plan will position Defenders to be the force wildlife and wild places need to survive against habitat loss, population growth, invasive species, climate change and other urgent threats. But meeting the goals set forth for the next decade depends on our ongoing vigilance — and that means making meaningful progress in 2013, the first year of this long-term plan.
One of our priorities is to protect ecologically important Arctic landscapes from further oil and gas development. Through our policy work, we will stand up to Big Oil and redouble our efforts to protect threatened and endangered species such as the polar bear and Pacific walrus.
We will also focus much of our wildlife work onto 25 key species to ensure their survival, including wolves, sea turtles, whales, sea otters, manatees, sage grouse, bison and more. For example, one of our strategies is to protect wolves in Wyoming through our lawsuit against the irresponsible delisting of wolves under the Endangered Species Act in that state. Another strategy for wolf protection in the coming year is to quadruple the use of coexistence tools in the Northern Rockies to increase tolerance for imperiled wolves and other predators.
When it comes to whales, you will see Defenders hard at work in the courts, in Washington, D.C., and in the field to reduce whale mortalities from vessel strikes and fishing net entanglement through our advocacy, litigation and field efforts.
Our policy experts are working on strategies that have the potential to help wildlife nationwide. For instance, we are currently working to build support in the Senate to include conservation compliance measures in the 2012 Farm Bill. Half of all ESA-listed species have at least 80 percent of their habitat on private lands — and in the U.S. most of our private land is managed by farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. This makes federal agricultural policy an extremely important part of protecting wildlife, so we will continue this fight to include wildlife conservation measures in any Farm Bill. We will also continue to help guide our nation’s transition to clean energy in a way that protects wildlife and habitats by ensuring renewable energy projects are built “smart from the start.”
In the coming year, imperiled wildlife will face a threatened Endangered Species Act, the grim reality of climate change, greedy oil, gas and mining interests and other urgent threats.
Clearly it is going to be a busy twelve months for Defenders — but throughout the year ahead, we will not relent in our resolution to be the nation’s most powerful and impactful advocate for wildlife. I look forward to working with you on behalf of wildlife and habitat conservation in the coming year.
The Defenders family wishes you and yours a Happy New Year!